Proposed Next Steps for APS

In a closing session soliciting their feedback, conference attendees proposed next steps for APS. These are grouped into five categories with illustrative examples. Three of these in particular garnered strong support, with at least 25 separate suggestions for each of the following: maintaining a centralized database, identifying and promoting best practices, and providing venues for further discussion of DE/OL issues. Each category is illustrated with a few examples.

Maintain a centralized, comprehensive database that includes reviews 

Participants called for help in navigating the large number of online resources available and suggested that the APS could establish a centralized, comprehensive database. This database could be maintained on Compadre or a similar centralized site, and should include the ability for users to rate and review the materials. The user review feature was seen as critical, since online learning systems are continually changing. Additional features could include information on best practices for different pedagogical models, and could enable resource developers to upload their materials. Moreover, APS management and hosting of such a resource, which would allow academic and nonprofit institutions to maintain control of their own physics resources and data about students’ use of these resources, was seen as one solution to the conflict between the commercial and nonprofit platform developers.

Take a leading role in identifying best practices

A suggested activity for APS was the identification and promotion of best practices in DE/OL. This could be done through a commissioned study on best practices; by providing professional development opportunities like the New Faculty Workshop or AAS’s Teaching Excellence Workshop (taught by Ed Prather); and by organizing sessions on best practices at national APS meetings.

Provide a place for discussion of DE/OLDistance Education Workshop

Participants proposed that APS provide venues for further discussion of DE/OL issues. These forums might include additional workshops like the June 2013 DE/OL Workshop, follow-up sessions at national APS and AAPT meetings, and open discussions on LinkedIn or other forum services. Participants also requested PowerPoint slides with information that faculty could use to advocate for learning standards and best practices in DE/OL, similar to the slides used to advocate for increased attention to physics teacher education (Note 1).

Develop and maintain learning standards

APS should help lead the physics community to define and disseminate the key learning objectives for physics courses. In this way, learning objectives can be the standard to which all courses, traditional or DE/OL, are held.

Advocate for the need for engaged, quality physics instructors

In order to improve the chances for high quality DE/OL, participants called on APS to advocate for the need for engaged, quality physics instructors. They asked APS to (1) make clear that engaged, quality physics instructors are essential for effective physics teaching and (2) provide information about the added value of personal interactions in teaching. Suggested ways that APS could advocate include organizing a prestigious teaching innovation award for DE/OL or preparing an APS statement. This statement, possibly in conjunction with other professional organizations, should promote the need for high quality DE/OL and the need to reward physics instructors engaged in excellent DE/OL instruction.


Note 1: Found here.